Reflective skills of pharmacists in patient counselling
Keywords:Pharmacists, level of critical reflection, reflectivity, learning process
Background: Both the work and the roles of community pharmacists have been changing rapidly over the last decades. Nowadays pharmacists are expected to develop and re-evaluate their expertise in order to succeed in an ever-changing professional culture contributing to the demands of society. One of the tasks that, has become essential in modern pharmacy practice is reflective communication about medicines with patients. The worldwide experiences of Pharmacists include problems in applying theoretical knowledge in a practice setting and particularly in patient counselling.
Aim: To describe the levels of reflective learning of 40 Finnish community pharmacists in the context of patient counselling and health education. Theories that are used as a framework for the analysis are based on patient counselling according to USP Medication Counselling Stages and Metzirow’s theoretical underpinning.
Method: The data for this study comprised of essays written by a convenience sample of 40 practicing pharmacists(M.Sc. Pharm. and B.Sc. Pharm) before starting the one-year patient counselling courses in 2000 (n=21) and 2001(n=19). The data were thematically content analysed. Results: The findings of the study identified only one pharmacist reached the level of critical consciousness. Altogether 22 pharmacists remained at the level of affective reflectivity (i.e. the novice level of competency) and 10 remained at the level consciousness (i.e. the beginner level of competency). These pharmacists belonging to these two groups needed continuing education in basic pharmacotherapy knowledge and communication skills. Apart from one pharmacist, they had poor understanding of the interactive role of a customer (concordance).
Conclusions: These results may indicate that the pharmacist should reach the level of critical reflection before (s)he can develop competency empowerment-based patient counselling. New teaching methods and evaluation tools applicable to basic education, continuing education and in-house training are needed to support reflective learning process in developing professional competencies, such as patient counselling skills.
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